/US jobs report, Bank of England meeting, India budget

US jobs report, Bank of England meeting, India budget

The monthly US jobs report will add to the picture of what sort of an economy Joe Biden has inherited since he took over as president, while the Bank of England meets with interest rates just slightly higher than negative territory. India sets its budget for the year and the Super Bowl kicks off to a different advertising backdrop. We also have a first take on gross domestic product in the eurozone and earnings reports from tech titans Amazon and Alphabet, key pharma vaccine participants Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as Royal Dutch Shell and low-cost carrier Ryanair.

India budget/air show

India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveils the country’s annual budget on Monday.

Things are looking slightly better for India after a dramatic year. The number of coronavirus infections appears to have fallen drastically and the pace of inflation slowed markedly in December, falling within the central bank’s target for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began last year.

New Delhi unveiled a $10bn stimulus package for the pandemic-hit economy in October, but many economists were not impressed and warned that the government was doing too little to revive growth after the shock of its coronavirus lockdown.

This time fiscal policy is expected to play a lead role in generating growth, as the central bank seeks a return to a more normalised monetary policy.

A spending round is on the cards as the government tries to chart a course out of the Covid-induced slump, with generous allocations expected for the vaccination rollout, social welfare schemes and capital expenditure, all while Ms Sitharaman seeks to gradually lower the country’s deficit.

The country also hosts Aero India 2021 this week, the first global air show to be held since the Covid outbreak.

The biennial event is usually a big draw for aviation groups and defence contractors but it is likely to be a very subdued affair, with visitors having to carry Covid test reports, while isolation centres are being set up to quarantine anyone with symptoms or fever.

Super Bowl

The biggest American football game of the year takes place this coming Sunday, but the pandemic is taking the shine off the Super Bowl for some of the most prominent commercial advertisers.

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Blue-chip brands such as Budweiser and Coca-Cola, which for decades have fielded memorable advertisements for the National Football League championship game, are opting out this year.

Super Bowl ads have grown to become theatre unto themselves, with companies hiring A-list celebrities such as Brad Pitt and elaborate creative agencies to render funny, touching, or otherwise standout spots. 

But the pandemic has shifted attitudes among some brands about their potential return on investment for an in-game Super Bowl commercial, which remains the priciest advertising real estate in US media.

Elsewhere . . . 

  • Liz Truss, UK trade secretary, is due to speak with ministers in Japan and New Zealand on Monday to request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, with formal negotiations set to start this year 

  • Allies of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny are expected to rally in his support as a court in Moscow considers jailing him for alleged violation of suspended sentence terms on Tuesday

Earnings reports

We have more updates from the world of tech this week, where most of the big hitters have been weathering the Covid storm well. However, there are some fears in the industry that the pandemic tech bubble echoes the one of the dotcom era.

Google-parent Alphabet is expected to break the $50bn sales barrier, buoyed by a recovery in digital ad spending during the holiday season, a period that is also set to boost Amazon sales as customers flocked to its website during lockdowns.

However, Amazon’s popularity is likely to have been at the expense of ecommerce company eBay, where a fall in fourth-quarter revenue is expected. 

Ford Motor, which is undergoing an $11bn global restructuring under chief executive Jim Farley, is forecast to take a fourth-quarter hit owing to a $2.5bn charge related to its exit from its Brazilian manufacturing operations.

The carmaker has also called off its joint venture with Mahindra in India as it deals with the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and the global shortage of semiconductor chips.

Staying with chips, Qualcomm is expected to post a jump in revenue in its first quarter, powered in part by Apple’s new 5G iPhones, while investors will also be keeping an eye on Chinese chipmakers SMIC and ASE.

Sales and updates concerning the vaccines developed by Pfizer and GSK, in partnerships with BioNTech and Sanofi respectively, will be in focus when the two pharma groups report, alongside any guidance on outlook.

Ryanair reports after slashing its winter flight schedules in response to the new wave of lockdowns and travel restrictions in the UK and Europe. Despite this it seems well placed to last out the crisis and CEO
Michael O’Leary is on the hunt for opportunities to increase the Irish airline’s dominance of European airspace.

BP and Royal Dutch Shell report after a tough year that added the pandemic-induced price crash to the already existing challenges of reversing historical underperformance while navigating the tricky transition to cleaner fuels.

Shell’s fourth-quarter results come just days before CEO Ben van Beurden is due to update shareholders on its strategy for navigating the energy transition. The company has already warned of a quarterly loss in its exploration and production division, as well as “significantly” weaker results from its oil trading business — a previous buffer for the group.

Revenues and earnings are forecast to take a dip at UK telco BT, which recently shook up its core technology business as part of an effort to expand digital services as it attempts to improve returns and focus on new growth areas after shares hit an 11-year low last year.

Key reports


Nintendo; Ryanair; Hargreaves Lansdown


Amazon; Alphabet; Pfizer; ExxonMobil; BP; Electronic Arts; Ferrari; Panasonic; Imperial Oil; Alibaba


PayPal; Siemens; Sony; GSK; Spotify; Santander; Volvo; MetLife; eBay; Yahoo Japan; CNH Industrial; Royal Caribbean Cruises; Qualcomm


BT; Ping An Insurance; Royal Dutch Shell; Philip Morris; Snap; Unilever; SoftBank; Ford Motor; Peloton Interactive; Pinterest; Prudential Financial; YUM! Brands; Nokia; Motorola; Deutsche Bank; News Corp; Carlyle Group; Yamaha; The New York Times; Gilead Sciences; Total


Sanofi; Estée Lauder; BNP Paribas; Aon; Intesa Sanpaolo; Carlsberg; Suzuki Motor; Honda Motor

Central banks and economic data

US jobs figures for January will be the week’s main release and help analysts pinpoint which sections of the economy are showing signs of recovery.

Economists surveyed by Bloomberg estimate that this week’s non-farm payrolls will show that the US added just 55,000 jobs in January.

It follows a loss of 140,000 in December — the first monthly decline since the early days of the pandemic in April — owing to increased restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.

The number of long-term unemployed, or those who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more, jumped to almost 4m in December from 1.1m in February, before the pandemic. Overall, about 18.3m Americans are on unemployment aid and the US has 9.8m fewer jobs than it had in February.

China’s PMIs will give the latest snapshot of the state of recovery as the world’s second-biggest economy heads towards the lunar new year holiday when additional Covid restrictions will be in place.

Fourth-quarter GDP from the eurozone is likely to show that the economy contracted, bringing with it the prospect of a double-dip recession, though it is likely to be tempered somewhat by Germany, Spain and France holding up better than expected.

Investors will also keep a close eye on US Institute for Supply Management surveys as global commodity prices and shipping costs rise.

It’s a busy week for central banks, with the Bank of England meeting likely to draw most attention. Investors will be keen to hear what the thinking is from policymakers as lockdowns continue to weigh heavily on parts of the economy, and also on the viability of negative interest rates as an easing tool.

With the base interest rate at a record low of 0.1 per cent, there is very little wriggle room left. Still, for this gathering at least, the market expects the BoE to keep rates on hold.

Investors will be keeping an eye out for any clues to future policy at meetings in India and Australia, even if policy changes are unlikely at either just yet.

Economic activity continues to improve in both countries thanks to virus cases being kept under control, with economists noting that Australia’s approach to suppressing the virus has boosted consumer confidence and enabled a faster recovery than many other nations.

Further reading

Key data and events


Ghana, rate decision

China, manufacturing PMI (Jan)

Germany, retail sales (year on year, Dec)

US, ISM manufacturing index (Jan)


Australia, rate decision

Italy, GDP (Q4, flash)

Eurozone, GDP (Q4, flash)

Hong Kong, retail sales (Dec)


Thailand; Iceland; Poland, rate decisions

China, services PMI (Jan)

France, services PMI (Jan, final)

Eurozone, HICP inflation (Jan, flash)

US, ISM services index (Jan)


Bank of England; Czech Republic; Egypt, rate decisions

Europe, retail sales (year on year, Dec)

US initial jobs claims


India, rate decision

Australia, retail sales (month on month, Dec)

US, non-farm payrolls (Jan)

Canada, unemployment (Jan)

When central bank meetings run for more than one day they are listed on the date the meeting concludes and policy is announced